How Billings, Montana, became the top place to buy a home in the U.S.

·1 min read
Montana mountains near Billings.
Montana mountains near Billings. AP Photo/Matthew Brown

Billings, Montana, has become the place to buy a home in the United States — at least according to The Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com Emerging Housing Markets Index.

The rise to the top of the index isn't completely out of the blue for the city, which has a population of 184,000, since it was previously in the fourth spot. But Billings got a boost thanks to its low unemployment (in May, the rate was 3 percent, which is about half of the U.S. rate), affordability, outdoor activities, and booming housing market, the Journal writes.

The Journal notes that the housing market's strength has been driven, in large part, by out-of-state buyers who now have the flexibility to work remotely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Per the Journal, about 65 percent of page views on Billings property listings came from outside the metro area in the second quarter of 2021, and folks are reportedly not only moving to Billings from coastal states like California and Washington, but Kentucky and Texas, as well. It appears second-home buyers, a group that's driving up in prices in some other smaller cities across the U.S., aren't a big factor here, with just 3 percent of Billings homes serving as vacation properties, Realtor.com notes.

"I truly believe Montana's been discovered," Deb Parker, broker owner of Parker & Co. Real Estate Services in Billings, told the Journal. "I've never seen so much cash in our market." Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

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